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March 8, 2018
Working in the construction industry as a woman, like in other male-dominated industries, has its complications and challenges. Quite often you find yourself the only woman in the meeting, on the project team, or at the jobsite. For some, including myself, standing out is not when I feel comfortable or confident to contribute.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 9 percent of the construction workforce is made up of women. Nearly half of those women are in sales or office support roles, while about one-third are in professional or management roles. Even smaller percentages make up the women who perform construction, maintenance, production, transportation, or other services such as material moving.
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is an organization dedicated to highlighting all of these women as a visible component of the construction industry. For more than 55 years, NAWIC has helped women take advantage of the employment opportunities that exist in construction, while also giving them the chance to network, take advantage of educational opportunities, mentor or find a mentee, and make a difference in their communities.
Each year, thousands of NAWIC members from chapters across the country take time in March to celebrate women's contributions to the industry as well as raise awareness of the opportunities available to women during Women in Construction Week.
WIC Week 2018
The Puget Sound Chapter of NAWIC has a full slate of activities planned for WIC Week, which runs March 5–10. The theme for the week is “Making a Measurable Difference.”
The week kicked off with a welcome message from Puget Sound Chapter President Jenny Browne, along with a video from NAWIC. This video speaks to the nation's current decline in skilled construction workers and how that has left a gap in the construction workforce.
NAWIC wants to “empower skilled women to fill that gap,” according to Kathy Ireland from Worldwide Business. You can view Ireland's full video interview with the immediate past president of NAWIC, Connie Leipard, at http://www.nawic.org/nawic/default.asp.
WIC Week events continue throughout the week with multiple networking events, philanthropic opportunities with Habitat for Humanity and Dress for Success, a jobsite tour of Bellevue's Spring District, and a Mom & Me Build Workshop at The Home Depot in Bellevue. The events are for NAWIC members but are open to anyone interested in supporting, and bringing awareness to, the growing number of women in the construction industry.
“WIC Week gives a time for us to celebrate and share where we have been, what we are doing now, and inspire each other to continue lifting each other up,” said Browne. “Personally, I am inspired each and every time I connect with another NAWIC member, and I can't wait to have a full week of inspiring, thoughtful events to recognize women in construction.”
Making it personal
As with any organization, the more you give, the more you get. Women who have joined NAWIC have had the chance to network, share, and build friendships and connections with other women in construction. And the more women support one another, the higher we'll build each other up.
Please encourage the women you know who work in construction to get involved in industry organizations like NAWIC and support the other women in construction.
With 11 years of experience in the construction industry, Melanie Deitch does marketing and communications for PCL Construction Services in Bellevue.